June 20, 2012

First FAA-Certified Carrier to Fly Special RNP AR Approaches!

We’re the first Federal Aviation Administration (FAA)-certified carrier in the United States to utilize the new satellite-based Special (Non-Public) Required Navigation Performance Authorization Required (RNP AR) approaches to Runways 13L and 13R at our home base at New York’s John F. Kennedy International Airport with our fleet of Airbus A320 aircraft.

These unique Special Performance-Based Navigation (PBN) procedures are designed to utilize a constant vertical descent in conjunction with a precise curved flight path to the runways, resulting in the following efficiencies:

  • Stabilized approach path;
  • Shorter flight times for customers;
  • Reduced noise levels and greenhouse-gas emissions and,
  • Increased fuel savings by as much as 120 pounds, or 18 gallons, per flight.

The RNP AR approach procedure will allow us to utilize a decision altitude while in a slight turn to the runway, the first airline in the United States to harness this special capability. This allows for lower landing weather minimums, increasing runway utilization at JFK. These procedures will be a key component in making JFK operate independent of the other NY-area airports and reduce delays at JFK, LaGuardia (LGA), Newark Liberty International (EWR) and Teterboro (TEB) airports in certain poor weather conditions.


We began designing and testing the JFK special instrument procedures in 2004 in partnership with the FAA and MITRE Corporation. Our cadre of more than 2,300 pilots have been trained and certified at our flight simulator training facility in Orlando to fly RNP AR procedures across the National Airspace System.

In addition to these milestones, in 2008 we became the first and remain the only Airbus A320 operator in the country to receive FAA authorization for RNP AR approaches, followed by RNP AR certification for our entire fleet of Embraer E190 aircraft in 2010.  We maintains all of our fleet types certified for RNP AR and plan to extend the unique capability at JFK to our Embraer E190 fleet in the near future.

To further advance our active role in upgrading the nation’s air traffic control system, in 2011 we also announced a partnership with the FAA to provide data and conduct real-time operational evaluations for the organization’s Next-Generation Air Transportation System (NextGen) airspace modernization program.  Through FAA-funding, we’ll equip up to 35 of our A320 planes with Automatic Dependent Surveillance Broadcast (ADS-B) Out avionics that will provide air traffic controllers with precise positioning of the aircraft using GPS satellite signals, enabling our aircraft to fly more direct routes off the East Coast.  This capability, when combined with the new FAA En Route Automation Modernization (ERAM) System, will begin field trials next summer. We’re currently awaiting final aircraft certification.

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10 Comments on “First FAA-Certified Carrier to Fly Special RNP AR Approaches!”

  • Posted by Brett on June 20, 2012 at 4:23 pm

    Thats great news for you guys! The airline I work for in Canada has been flying these approaches for a while now with great success

  • Posted by Jewel Gomez on June 21, 2012 at 1:03 am

    My airline is a non-cas airline, I want to know if I am able to be cas certified by the faa without going through my airline so I can ride the jump seat on far 121 carriers.

  • Posted by Karlene Petitt on June 21, 2012 at 9:37 am

    Great information! And congratulations on being the first to lead the way.

  • Posted by Jay Meinen on June 21, 2012 at 10:09 am

    Jet Blue is hardly the first carrier to fly RNP approaches. Alaska and Continental (now United) have been flying them for years. Southwest is working on them. How does Jet Blue claim to be the first?

  • Posted by JetBlue on June 21, 2012 at 10:58 am

    Thanks for landing here and for your question Jay. That’s true! JetBlue along with other carriers have been flying RNP approaches for several years. Our A320s have been fully-certified since 2008, and our E190s have been equipped since 2010. What’s different about those approaches, which are all part of a larger NextGen picture to improve the National Airspace System, is that they are public RNP approaches (meaning all carriers that are RNP certified can utilize them). The unique aspect of this new approach is that it’s a special, non-public RNP AR approach, meaning we received special authorization from the FAA to design the approach, install special software on our aircraft, and train our pilots to fly it so that we can navigate more efficiently through the busy New York airspace (particularly when there is low visibility in the area).

    While it’s called a non-public RNP AR approach, other carriers can work towards getting certified to fly the new approach. As New York’s Hometown Airline, with more than 160 flights in and out of JFK each day, we believe we’ve planted a seed for the future that will ultimately create a significant decrease in delays as more and more carriers get onboard. Our goal is to work towards minimizing delays for the traveling public. Not only that, we’re saving fuel and decreasing noise pollution and greenhouse gas emissions!

  • Posted by Dave on June 22, 2012 at 1:15 pm

    Now that your fleet is starting to use ADS-B, you need to train your flightcrews to input their flight numbers properly. It should be JBU###, not just ###.

  • Posted by Boomer on June 29, 2012 at 4:29 pm

    The ACARS Software only has enough characters to support 4 numbers. Its not a pilot issue as it is a software isssue.

  • Posted by Jetblue cadre | Swinefluexpose on July 2, 2012 at 8:54 pm

    [...] BlueTales » JetBlue » First FAA-Certified Carrier to Fly Special RNP … [...]

  • Posted by Gustavo De La Cruz on August 21, 2012 at 2:59 pm

    Dear JetBlue Friends Congratulations!
    We’re SKY Airline, an RNAV-GNSS certified carrier in Chile with a A320/319 fleet.
    LAN, a mayor airline in the region is leading this project already flying RNP-AR approaches since some years.
    We need some help with numbers about fuel saving, utilizing RNP procedures, in order to get our project finaced by the company administrator.
    Please let me know if you could help with more information, and details about the software upgrades selected and it cost (step 2 plus, step 3)


  • Posted by Uh on September 6, 2012 at 2:26 pm

    An airline who asks for help on running their numbers via a blog post comment? Definitely someone I want to fly with. Sign me up for a trip to Chile.

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